Types of Potential Check Scams
- Mystery Shopper
- Receiving overpayment for an item you placed for sale online
- Being notified that you have won a foreign lottery or sweepstakes
- Being notified that you are receiving an inheritance from a recently deceased, unknown relative that you have never heard of
- Unsolicited (from an unknown source) faxes, letters, or emails asking for an immediate response
- Being recruited to cash a check or money order to supposedly allow transfer of funds to your account and being told that you can keep a percentage of the funds
Mystery Shopper Check Scams:
Mystery Shopper Scams use fraudulent offers, fake checks and wire transfers to persuade unsuspecting consumers into sending money to identity thieves who are often located outside the U.S.
How do these scams operate?
A random source posts an ad or promotion looking to hire “mystery shoppers” in exchange for payment. These promotions can be in the form of letters, e-mail solicitations, text messages, or advertisements.
These scams pull people in with incentives such as “stay-at-home positions” and “easy money”.
What is at risk?
After responding to the ad, consumer will receive an “employment package” containing a fake cashier’s check (often for more than $2000). Consumers are asked to deposit the check into their bank/credit union account, pose as a shopper and then use wire transfer to send the balance of the check after purchases and "salary" to an address usually outside of U.S.
The risk is that the check is fraudulent, so when it bounces – usually after the money has been wired – the consumer/member is held accountable.
In some instances, consumers are asked for personal bank account information so that the fraudulent company can deposit money into their account for payment, which never is never received and increases the chance of identity theft significantly.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Do not open or respond to unsolicited e-mails asking you to become a mystery shopper or secret shopper.
- Never deposit a check you receive in the mail from a “mystery shopping” company. No legitimate business will pay in advance and ask you to send back a portion of the money.
- Be aware—if something sounds strange, it most often is.
What can you do if you have already given your information to the unsolicited source?
- If you do give your information unsuspectingly to a random source, you may contact Bethpage Federal Credit Union at (800) 628-7070 or visit to your local Bethpage branch to close your account and open a new account. You should immediately change your passwords to protect your accounts.
Who is responsible if there is a loss to my account?
- You are responsible for your own account, as only you can determine whether the funds are legitimate or not.
- If you have already deposited the check and wired the funds, you will be held responsible. Even after you have withdrawn the funds, you are still responsible for checks you deposit that are returned to us unpaid and for any other problem involving your deposit.
Can the Credit Union determine whether my check is good or bad?
- Identity thieves today have access to technology that enables them to recreate checks that look legitimate. It is not always possible to distinguish a real check from a fake one. You must know who is giving you the check and do not accept checks from unknown sources.
Contact your local police department if you believe you have become a victim of fraud or have been in contact with someone who is trying to commit fraud. If you are a member of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, you can contact us at (800) 628-7070.